3d printers ...

Hello all,

I wanted to get everyone’s pros and cons from their experience with various types of additive prototyping techonologies, specifically, 3d printers. I work in the eyewear industry, so keep that scale of product in mind when responding if you can :wink:

The machines that seem to fit my criteria seem to be the Objet Eden 260v and the 3D Systems ProJet HD3000. My criteria are

(1) Office friendly … this badboy is NOT going to be sitting in the basement or a traditional shop type of environment
(2) High resolution output (we’re talking the 0.010 in range) so they can be finished pretty easily
(3) Reliability … this machine is slated to be a workhorse running more or less day in and day out
(4) Durable parts (somewhat flexible … they are a Nylon material in production) that can be handled and finished into appearance models
(5) “Easy” clean up … the less I have to do the better, the quicker the better. The ideal would be to be able to throw the support material in the trash versus having to go thru some sort of filtering or other type of disposal process that would require additional fit-up in the office (venting, water lines, etc.)
(6) Reasonably-priced consumables (my models are in the neighborhood of 1.5 cubic inches of build material)
(7) High quality support from the reseller
(8 ) To a much lesser degree, the ability to create flexible, rubber-like parts in the Shore hardness range of 30-50

If you can think of another machine besides one of the two I’ve listed above, let me know. Thanks in advance!


what does such a machine cost you?
and more importantly, how much will printing and maintaning cost yo with the Eden?

We have and eden 350v, so that’s what i’ll talk about
From what i understand the only difference between 260v and 350v is the build area.

1:our machine is not as “office friendly” as we believed it would be. Louder than expected, although the fumes are supposedly non toxic and we have it hooked up to an exterior vent, some of the materials have a very strong odor. The machine fits in our office but when objet spec’d the necessary footprint they didn’t include any space for repair access and we put it in a corner (this is problematic for certain maintenance and repair issues)

2:the resolution is great there is really no comparison to the things you can do regarding materials and time.

3:we go through periods of 24/7 usage this doesn’t seem to relate to when the machine breaks down. When it does break down their first line of defense is phone support. They will try to convince you that you should do all the repair work yourself, keep you on the phone for hours diagnosing and troubleshooting, screwing and unscrewing. We try to avoid doing anything other than very minor repair work and request a service tech for anything else (the yearly service contract is not cheap, use it). When the machine goes down you need to not only consider the lost modeling time, but the time that your employees will spend trying to troubleshoot and repair, not to mention the material you may loose if the job craps out 85% in. I would recommend having one person in charge of the machine performing maintenance, tracking errors and issues and being a liason with the objet staff. We tried to do a free for all where each designer would handle their own jobs and issues but then when the problems started we never knew individually what had been addressed previously and spent a lot of time repeating mistakes. Our new system of one objet point man has been much more efficient.

In the past 6 months we have been relatively problem free but the first 18 months were a nightmare we were working with at least 30% down time.

4: parts are reasonably durable but nowhere near nylon.
when printing small wall thicknesses your parts may warp over time. we have a hard time sending thin walled models to our customers or factories because they warp in transit. You will hear about a new “durus” material that is supposed to replicate PP but you may not hear that it eats print heads for breakfast (which are very expensive, not included in the service contract, and recommended to be replaced yearly. Remember this cost when you are considering your budget)

5:it’s all relative- you do need to power wash the support material off in a less than spectacular 3rd party machine that requires plumbing. You should also consider adding a slop sink next to the power washer. If you want a paintable surface you also need to soak the parts in sodium hydroxide and then power wash them again. (if the objet machine is your Ferrari, the power washer that ships with it is a radio shack cassette deck)

6:we have a dimension machine as well as the objet the consumable prices are incomparable but so is the model quality.

7:The on site guys are all aces but actually getting past the phone support and getting them dispatched to your facility is ridiculous. no matter how many times you have the same problem that has previously only been repairable by on site service you will be asked to troubleshoot every possible thing (the possibilities are innumerable because these are complex machines and software). Before we stopped accepting this type of service we were even shipped a box of parts and told to replace each one and retest because they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. After a few days of switching parts we still had no solution and then had to wait another three days for a tech. My biggest recommendation regarding service, always demand an on site tech be dispatched as soon as you report a problem even if they tell you they can’t be there for 3 days, at least get that ball rolling.

8:YES, and from what i have seen the only machine that does it well,
this was the selling feature for us.

have you seen the new objet alaris? (not sure if this does the tango flexible materials maybe that’s why you didn’t mention it)

Objet technology does great things but you can see what we have dealt with.

in Their defense, we bought our machine while they were transitioning from a 3rd party reseller/support system to their own US based offices and employees. Most of the people we dealt with were new to the company at the time. Last October i went to their first north American user group meeting to have a bitch fest with other users. The Objet people were very nice and listened to a lot of complaints and have definitely responded to some of them.

They are growing and improving

No matter what machine you go with i would recommend that you not only get printed samples from the salesmen you are dealing with but try to get them to take you to an office that has a machine setup that you can actually get some hands on experience with.

In objets case listen and smell then remove your parts from the print bed yourself, power wash them yourself, and do some of the daily/weekly maintenance yourself.

take that Ferrari for a test drive

maybe you should just upgrade to the connex500, that would make Mr. Arnold real happy

Hi Ryan,

Man, thanks very much for your reply! I"m sorry that it took me so long to see it. All of this info will be a big help with us making our decision.

What other machines did you guys take a look at when you were picking a 3d printer? At late entry into the fray has been the Fortus 360mc … should see parts by tomorrow. I’m excited that it builds in ABS for durability (esp. for our optical product), but I’m somewhat concerned about the 0.005" layer thickness (btw, meant to type 0.001" instead of 0.01" in my original post). I’m just not sure how that’ll compare to the 0.0006" and 0.00125" we’ve seen from the Objet and Projet machines, respectively. I guess the proof is in the parts, y’know?

Thanks again,